Georgia vs. Kentucky score, takeaways: No. 1 Dawgs rumble behind Kenny McIntosh, finish 8-0 in SEC again

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No. 1 Georgia won Kentucky 16-6 in an old-fashioned slugfest in Lexington, Kentucky. With the win, the Bulldogs keep their perfect season alive, finishing 8-0 in SEC play for the second consecutive year.

Georgia clung to a 16–6 lead late in the fourth quarter, but the defense held Kentucky to a 38-yard field goal attempt. A bad snap forced Matt Ruffolo to kick in with the laces, and he shot wide left to make it a two-score game with 4:17 to play. The Miscue was the dagger the Dawgs needed to prevail, but make no mistake, it needed that Miscue.

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis led his team on a 99-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter after his defense stopped Georgia on fourth and the goal to finally take away momentum in what was an offensively challenging performance for both teams. It was the first time a team put together a ride since Kirby Smart took over the Dawgs.

Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny scored three first half field goals for an early 9–0 lead. However, the slow start from Dawgs’ attack quickly turned into a brilliant performance from running back star Kenny McIntosh. The versatile star scored Georgia’s lone touchdown midway through the third quarter to create a 16-point margin. The senior finished rushing for 143 yards and receiving another 19, which was a major reason Georgia was able to keep Kentucky at bay.

The ability of Georgia’s defenses to bend but not break was an important factor. It stopped Kentucky in fourth and first from the 32 yard line to stop Kentucky’s first drive of the game, and Levis was picked off the goal line by Kelee Ringo to end the Wildcats’ second possession. Those two stops set the tone for the Dawgs.

What are the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s game?

Kenny McIntosh was the MVP

The running back senior Bulldogs were the most valuable player on the field, for both teams, and Georgia could have been in big trouble without him. His 9-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter on Georgia’s fifth drive of the game came after those three field goals and quarterback Stetson Bennett IV’s ill-advised interception over the center on the first drive of the second half. Basically, McIntosh kicked a neutral Georgia offense into gear.

It wasn’t high gear per se, but it was enough to keep it rolling in the right direction. In the end, that clutch run was all Georgia needed to take the win. The Dawgs had seven rushes of 10 or more yards in the afternoon, five of which came from McIntosh.

McIntosh has been something of an unsung hero for this team. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken needed a replacement for James Cook, the versatile youngster from the backfield of last year’s national championship squad. It is important that he had this kind of performance in the future. Now Coach Kirby Smart knows that when nothing goes the way his team wants, he can turn it over to his veteran running back and let him carry the burden.

The first two possessions told the story

This game was not officially over until Levis’ fourth down-center pass fell harmlessly to the turf with just over a minute left in the game. However, the Wildcats’ first two possessions were what really cost them the game.

Levis, wide receiver Barion Brown and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. cut through the Georgia defense for that fateful fourth and first stop. It was an empty possession, but at least it gave Levis and the rest of the offense confidence that they can agree with this defense.

It was the same story on the next ride. Rodriguez pounded down the middle of the Bulldogs defensive line, Levis worked on play action and they were 2-of-2 on third downs on the 13-play drive prior to the interception by Ringo’s goal-line interception. The Wildcats were in catch-up mode from then on, and it felt like any home field advantage that the Wildcats were frozen in the chilly Lexington air.

Georgia’s OL was great

McIntosh had a great performance, but his offensive line deserves a lot of credit for his performance. They did not allow a single tackle for loss that afternoon and separated the Wildcats defense as the Red Sea on the touchdown run. It wasn’t just that driving, though. McIntosh wasn’t touched until he was well outside the line of scrimmage for pretty much the entire game, setting the tone against a Kentucky defense that couldn’t match the physicality.

Bennett did not provide much assistance by air, and Georgia was still able to rush for 247 yards and 5.4 yards per rush. The attack was necessarily one-dimensional and it didn’t matter thanks to the work being done in the trenches.

Bennett’s Heisman chances are gone

The senior quarterback had a chance to further strengthen his case and earn at least enough votes to earn an invite to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in mid-December. He had a national podium late in the season to impress voters who might be considering other players who light up stats every week.

However, he did not take advantage. He went 13 of 19 for 116 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. After that, it was clear that Monken and the offensive staff cut the game off in a way that didn’t require Bennett to be a difference maker. It worked on Saturday, but that’s not something Heisman voters will take kindly to

Does it matter in the end? No. Bennett’s only goal this year was to win back-to-back national titles, and that goal remains very much alive.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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